Four steps to career success for internationally-trained finance professionals in Canada

The Windmill Microlending blog interviews Kim Tobin at Vancouver-based FAST (Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent) to offer career success tips to internationally-trained finance professionals in Canada.

Accreditation and Licensing,Career Success and Planning

August 9, 2023

Estimated reading time: 2.5 minutes 

In summary: 

  • According to recent statistics, the demand for financial professionals in Canada has increased in recent years. 
  • Despite the growing demand, internationally-educated financial professionals often encounter roadblocks when trying to establish themselves in Canada's financial sector. 
  • Through proactive strategies, internationally-trained financial professionals can bridge these gaps and carve a promising path for their financial careers in Canada. 

Welcome to Canada, where the possibilities for a thriving financial career are abundant, and the demand for skilled financial professionals is on the rise. As immigrant and refugee financial professionals embark on a new chapter in their lives, this blog aims to provide invaluable insights and guidance for successfully launching their careers in the Canadian financial sector. We understand the unique challenges you may face, as your international credentials and work experience may not be readily recognized, and adapting to Canadian financial practices could require some upgrading. However, fear not, for with the right information and support, you can confidently pave the way to a prosperous future in Canada. 

According to recent statistics, the demand for financial professionals in Canada has increased in recent years, underscoring the country's desire for financial stability and pressing need for skilled professionals who can not only navigate complex financial landscapes. These individuals also contribute to strengthening the financial literacy of Canadians. Immigrant and refugee financial professionals bring a diverse set of experiences and perspectives that can prove invaluable in this pursuit, fostering a richer understanding of global financial markets and practices. 

Despite the growing demand, internationally-educated financial professionals often encounter roadblocks when trying to establish themselves in Canada's financial sector. Many find that their credentials and work experience from their home countries may not be immediately recognized, leading to initial hurdles in securing suitable employment. Moreover, while their technical expertise might be outstanding, adapting to the nuances of Canadian financial regulations and practices can pose further challenges. Rest assured, though, that such obstacles are not insurmountable. Through proactive strategies, you can bridge these gaps and carve a promising path for your financial career in Canada.  

As you embark on this transformative endeavour, remember that your skills and expertise are highly valued in Canada. Your contributions have the potential to shape a brighter financial future for individuals and businesses alike.  

Want to learn more about the steps you need to complete to get licensed or certified in your profession in Canada? Visit Windmill Microlending’s Educational Pathways.      

The Windmill Microlending blog interviewed Kim Tobin, Project Coordinator at Vancouver-based FAST (Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent), a free national service that helps immigrants launch their careers in Canada by offering online and self-paced employment preparation for in-demand sectors. Tobin suggests four steps internationally-trained finance professionals can take to launch their careers in Canada, and highlights important factors immigrants and refugees should consider when seeking employment.  

Group 5 (1)

The FAST Canada program helps immigrants launch their careers in their new country by offering free, online and self-paced employment preparation in six key sectors. Through the FAST assessments, immigrants can better understand how their past work experiences and training compare with Canadian standards in their sector. 

Tobin also mentions that FAST’s learning module for internationally-educated financial professionals was developed in collaboration with another Windmill partner, Chartered Professionals Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC)

Step 1: Do Your Research  

Before you seek employment in the Canadian financial sector, you should do your research. This research, however, is not exclusive to information on available work opportunities and postings.  

Instead, you should conduct research into the Canadian labour market, current employment trends in finance, and occupational requirements. Questions you should research can range from what the financial hubs in Canada are, which financial occupations are in high demand within the sector, and if you need to be recertified before you can pursue your desired occupation.  

Having clear expectations and knowing what roles and occupations best suit your experience in relation to the Canadian market, will make your job search much clearer and more targeted. Within the Canadian financial sector, there will be many factors that you should take into consideration before you send out your resume as these can impact your overall success in finding employment in your field.  

Step 2: Workplace Culture and Preparing for Work in Canada 

An element that is often overlooked when seeking employment in a new country is the difference in workplace culture. Canadian workplace culture within the financial sector can differ greatly from financial sectors in other countries, including the United States.  

It is important to know how your new working environment may differ from your past experiences, and what you can do to ensure you are not overwhelmed or surprised by the differences. Due to Canada’s cultural diversity, you may also be greeted with a workplace that combines a variation of cultural practices and working styles that can be confusing. Preparing for work in Canada should include being ready for potential differences at your new workplace and knowing how to appropriately respond to situations that you may be unfamiliar with. 

Step 3: Technical Skills vs. Soft Skills 

Soft skills refer to interpersonal skills that an individual can possess such as public speaking, collaboration, or team management. These types of skills are increasingly becoming more valued by Canadian employers in several sectors, including the financial sector. 

While financial professionals in Canada do require certain certifications, training, and education for different roles, more employers are seeking candidates that can demonstrate skills that go beyond the required technical skills. To be successful in the Canadian labour market, you need to know how to advocate your technical skills and expertise to employers, but also recognize which soft skills you possess that could be highlighted.  

For example, a financial advisor in Canada is required to have specific certifications and training to be eligible for the role, yet they must also be confident in speaking with clients, performing presentations, and sharing reports to colleagues. Therefore, individuals seeking opportunities as a financial advisor should highlight not only their education and training to potential employers, but also the soft skills they possess that can be valuable, such as presentation abilities and customer service expertise. 

Step 4: Identify Gaps in Your Knowledge and Find Support 

Identifying gaps in your knowledge can be difficult when seeking employment in Canada. Your past work experience and education may make it challenging to recognize if there are certain areas of your knowledge that may need to be enhanced due to Canadian standards.  

Some financial standards or even occupational duties may differ in Canada in comparison to what you are familiar with. This can cause frustration or even confusion into knowing what Canadian employers want you to know. Competency assessments are valuable tools that you can use to learn more about financial industry standards, Canadian employer expectations, and how to identify if there are any gaps in your knowledge that need to be addressed.  

Once you have identified any gaps in your knowledge or industry standards you must consider before seeking employment, it will be easier to confidently promote yourself and your skills to potential employers.  

In partnership with CPABC, FAST can help you learn how your current skills and competencies compare to Canadian standards in accounting and finance. FAST can provide you with a suite of resources that you can access to better prepare for work in Canada, learn more about the financial sector, and recognize any gaps in your knowledge before you seek employment. 

To learn more about Windmill partner, FAST, click here

Are you an internationally-educated immigrant or refugee professional, living in Canada, who needs funds to pay for your Canadian credential assessment, training, qualifying exams or professional development courses? Over 95% of eligible newcomers are approved for a Windmill Microlending loan of up to $15,000. No Canadian credit history required. Start your application today   

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